There are eight royal tombs in Hue, being the final resting places of the Nguyen Kings. Construction of the tombs was very meticulous and started while the king was still alive. Most of the tombs face the southwest, direction of the Imperial city. Each toms consists of two complexes. The first is reserved for funeral services and the second one is exclusively for the toms. Generally, each tomb is enclosed in a surrounding rampart called "la thanh". However, each tomb internal arrangement is different from one another; particular arrangements reflected each king's points of view, personality and tastes.
Tomb of Minh Mang
The construction of the tomb of Minh Mang started in 1840 and was completed in 1843. It is located in an enclosed hilly area of 18ha in Cam Khe village, 12 km from the centre of Hue.
Minh Mang tomb is a standard architectural complex consisting of 40 big and small constructions which include palaces, temple, pavilions, etc., designed on symmetric axis along the Dai Hong gate outside to the foot of La Thanh behind the Emperor's tomb.
Visit to Minh Mang tomb, tourists fancy that they are wandering in a world of painting, poetry and philosophy - besides the strictness, majesty and symmetry of the architectural constructions. The tomb of Minh Mang has an air of magnificence and formality, and its architectural design harmoniously blends with its natural surroundings.
Tomb of Tu Duc
The tomb of Tu Duc is situated on Duong Xuan mountain in Duong Xuan Thuong village, on the bank of the Perfume river, 8km from the centre of Hue.
The construction started in 1864 and was completed in 1883. Also called Tomb of Modesty, the necropolis complex is enclosed by a thick wall following the contour of the hill, among a pine tree forest. Tu Duc tomb is not only one of the most beautiful works of royal architecture of the Nguyen dynasty but also is a romantic picture of mounts and lakes.
Tomb of Khai Dinh
The tomb was built between 1920 and 1931. It is located on top of the Chau E mountains, 10km of Hue. Located in a vast expanse of wilderness, Khai Dinh tomb looks like a magnificent palace perched on the slope of a limestone mountain. It is a accessible by climbing 109 stone steps.
Unlike the construction materials used for the other tomb, Khai Dinh mausoleum was built with modern materials such as steel and reinforced concrete. The peculiar feature of the tomb is the magnificent porcelain decorations on the walls, columns and ceilings.
Tomb of Gia Long
The tomb of Gia Long is located 16km from the centre of Hue, on top of the Thien Tho mountain, on the west bank of the Huong river. Construction of the tomb began in 1814 and was completed in 1820. Located in a vast land covered with a wide canopy of old pine trees, the mausoleum was built according to a monumental but simple design.
In front is a lotus pond. Behind the pond is a large terraced yard divided into three different levels. The first level was used as the waiting area and is bordered by two rows of elephant and horse statues.
Tomb of Dong Khanh
Dong Khanh tomb is located on the land of Cu Si hamlet, now Thuong Hai village, Thuy Xuan commune, Hue city. The tomb was built in 1917. The whole architecture of the tomb are divided:
The worship temple, in general, the constructions still bear the traditional figures : house with multi succeeding roofs. In the main temple and its dependent houses, the familiar splendid red and gilt pillars with decoration of four seasons and four Holly animals are still seen. Most noteworthy is Ngung Hy temple - the best conserved place of famous red and gilt arts, of famous lacquer arts of Vietnam.
The tomb area: the tomb design was almost completely Europeanized from the architectural peculiarity, decorative model to building materials - Bi Dinh is a variation of Romance architecture blended with Asian architecture with tall, thin mandarin statues from cement and bricks (instead of stone), tile and carreau bricks.
In general, Dong Khanh tomb was beginning of the mixture of European and Asian, of the old and new architecture.
Tomb of Thieu Tri
Thieu Tri's tomb lies in Chu Chanh village, Thuy Bang commune, Huong Thuy district, about 8km from the city. The tomb was built in 1849 and divided into two parts: the tomb area and temple area.
The tomb area: on the right with Nhuan Trach lake is the bronze gate leading to big Binh Dai. The two rows of stone statues on the left and right of the court are typical for the sculpture in the first half of 19th century in Hue. Ngung Thuy lake looks like a crescent moon barring in front of Buu Thanh.
The temple area : after passing the marble gate and another three steps leading to Bieu Duc temple, tourists will go through Hong Trach gate. In the main temple there engraved over 450 word boxes including poems with education and literature values.
Thieu Tri's tomb lies there with simple and intimate beauty, leans its back against the foot of Thuan Dao mount, in front of the tomb stretches flat land with lushly green trees and rice-fields from the Huong river 's bank up to Lim bridge.